“Grandparent.” Whether applied to an aged and enfeebled nursing home resident or a marathon-running, mountain-biking, adventure-seeking 45-year-old, in many ears this word conveys only one image—old. My own grandparents seemed “ancient” during my own childhood, though they were all about the age I have now attained. Two were faithful Christians and two were not, yet all are precious to me, and their examples are a large part of who I am now. Solomon wrote, “The memory of the just is blessed,…” (Pro. 10:7), and I especially bless the memory of my Christian grandparents, and want all my grandchildren to know them in eternity.
A grandparent is first a parent and remains a parent. Though our own children have now become adults, our role in their lives has not ended, though it must necessarily change. No longer primarily teacher or disciplinarian, we now have the opportunity to become mentor, counselor, and friend. In Proverbs 4:1-4, Solomon is passing on to his own children the good lessons he learned from his own father. We greatly bless both our children and grandchildren when the grandchildren can see that we embody and reinforce the principles their parents are trying to instill. Hindsight — the vantage point of our own experience — lets us see our successes and mistakes as parents. Take care to not damage a grandchild’s soul by spoiling them or undermining the God-given authority of their parents. Our wisdom—if combined with humility and honesty—may enable us help our children repeat our successes while avoiding our errors. We can comfort and console grandchildren when they struggle to accept correction from their parents, but don’t allow yourself to become a wedge between them.
Second, grandchildren are meant to be enjoyed so do enjoy them as much as possible (Pro. 17:6)! The Hebrew word for “crown” is the diadem or “wreath” of a king, a mark of honor. It corresponds in a large degree to the “victor’s crown” of Philippians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:19, to which the apostle Paul compared the saints in both those places. Living to see our children’s children is a significant accomplishment, and seeing a grandchild grow to become a faithful Christian is tangible evidence that we have touched eternity in the most positive way possible! Hebrews 11:4 reminds us that Abel “…though he died,…still speaks.” The time you spend with your grandchildren is precious, so make the most of it! What memories will you leave, to touch their future? Will your grandchildren remember your wisdom, righteousness, and reverence for God (Pro. 1:3 & 7)? Imagine the joy that Timothy’s faithfulness and commitment must have provided Lois, whose faith was the “root” of his own (2 Tim. 1:5)! Delight in your grandchildren, especially when they are also your brethren (remember Ps. 133:1).
Third, realize that God has blessed you with a tremendous opportunity to teach and mold the souls of your grandchildren. Whether your time together is limited to summers, holidays and vacations, or is “full-time” due to economic stress, divorce, or some other challenge, your words, actions, and example will impact them for life. Don’t try to “prove” your love by the money, property, or the university tuition you may leave them. While Proverbs 13:22 does say, “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” a legacy of commitment to Christ has far greater value than any of this world’s goods! In Deuteronomy 4:9 and 6:1-2, Moses reminded grandparents in Israel that they were to teach both their children and their grandchildren to “keep all his statues and his commandments … that thy days may be prolonged.” He likewise warns us that the consequences of our misdeeds can reach to “…the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Deu. 4:25). It is worth noting here that all of these scriptural instructions conform to the fundamental principle expressed in Proverbs 22:6, of “training” a child, which speaks as much of demonstrating right conduct as of providing proper information.
Fourth, recognize that getting to be a grandparent is part of God’s reward for your own faithfulness, according to Psalm 128:1-6! We often joke that “grandchildren are God’s reward for not giving up on their parents,” but the reality is that they are His reward for our own patience and persistence in guiding their parents into the faith! We are blessed beyond measure when we are able to know our grandchildren as our brethren in Christ as well as “grand” children!